Harisankar

New Head-Fier
Endgame Open back headphones for the Beginner Audiophile
Pros: 1) Great Soundstage and Scale
2) Great for Instrumental music
3) Does not require much power
4) Good for almost all music genres
5) Responds well to bass adjustments by Portable Dacs
6) Comparatively light weight planar
7) Very good build quality
Cons: 1) Earcups can be more spacious
2) Not the most efficient headphones and requires some dac/amp combo to bring out their best
My journey into the audiophile world started three years back with the Critically acclaimed closed back headphone Audio Technica ATH M50X. However, contrary to my expectations, that head phone's sound signature was too analytical for my taste. The sound stage even for a closed back headphone was very narrow. I sold the ATH M50X and brought an Amazon Refurbished Sennheiser HD 598SR for half the cost. HD 598SR which was my first open backed headphone amazed me by its wide Soundstage and relaxed audio signature. The only complaint I had with regard to that headphone was its poor bass response and that headphone stayed with me for nearly two years in conjunction with the modest Fiio E10K Dac.

In February 22 of this year, I decided to upgrade from the HD598 SR and I decided to buy a brand new He400i 2020 version from Headphone Zone, India. The package arrived few days later and the headphones were resting perfectly in a nice satin bed. I have also brought from Headphone Zone, an iFi Hip Dac to pair with the 400i.

Even now, I have only used the headphones for nearly 20 hrs and I am far from the 150 hr burn in period recommended by Hifiman. However, I can even now notice very significant improvements in the sound signature compared to HD598 SR. The Soundstage is more large and the sound profile is much more dynamic and full. The sub bass of this headphones is very thumping especially after I have turned on the XBass feature in the Hip Dac. Orchestral and Instrumental music especially sounds exceptional in He400i. I am also able to drive the headphones properly from the 3.5mm S-Bal jack in the Hip Dac without resorting to using the balanced port. I have listened to Tidal Hifi and MQA tracks along with regular YouTube music videos.

Some music that sounds especially good in He400i
1) Carnatic classical music
2) Centuries- Fall out Boy
3) Survivor - 2Wei
4) Your Love- Kate Linn
5) Durum- Kate Linn
6) Animals - Maroon 5
7) Natural - Imagine Dragons
8) Grapes of Wrath- Weezer
9)Apollonia soundtrack- The Godfather
10) Love me like you do- Ellie Goulding
11) Thank you- Led Zeppelin
12) Music by AR Rahman
13) Here Comes the Sun- Beatles

My Audiophile Setup
Hifiman He400i 2020 paired with iFi Hip Dac (power match and XBass turned on)

This is my first review in this forum, please share comments and feedback.

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Tisir
Tisir
And how hard are these to run? I have a zen dac V2 which I bought at the same time.
I hear people with far harder to drive cans having to settle at 70 percent volume, because that's the most pleasurable listening. And again I'm literally cranking it as far right, power match on and connected via unbalanced input on both I should add.

Tried to watch a movie like that and stopped petty quickly, hell I might as well get my xm3 out and go with ldac and get far better results.

What the hell is going on. On my phone I have zero post-processing enabled, followed all ifis instructions, and likewise while hooked on the pc via zen dac 2.
Tisir
Tisir
And strange how at first my phone recognized the ifi hip dac instantly. 'usb audio device' ifi hip dac connected. Or along those lines. Even outside USB player pro, Sony a champ in the that department. Don't even have to use USB player pro as it works in all music apps and correct options can be set in the device self.

But after the flashing of firmware my hip is called ifi HD audio by amr, which doesn't bother me but it makes me wonder. The ifi software can't even show my product Id, serial neither just the firmware.

There went 600 euros, and I have no clue who to address my grievance to. Is my 400i busted? Bought it from an different vendor, both ifis from a few vendor also Trustworthy.

I thought I I had the system overrated in my mind, but in glad to hear this is not supposed to be happening. I crap you not. A well configured ldac xm3 beats my setup by miles now. :frowning2:
H
Harisankar
Hai Tisir,
I suspect you may have got a damaged he400i 2020. I have not tried the hip dac with smartphones, so I can't comment on that. I know the sound signature of XM3 as I own it as well. A good working pair of He400i 2020, properly driven by a capable dac/amp is miles ahead of the XM3 whether you use LDAC or not.

jonthebaron

New Head-Fier
The Hifiman HE 400i 2020: A Headphone for the People
Pros: Great fit, clear sound, definition in instruments, relaxed tone, versatility across genres, price
Cons: Sometimes harsh high end, occasionally low bass response
Intro

I bought these headphones as my first purchase of planar magnetics, so for anyone also venturing into this domain, this review could be helpful to determine if you want to dive into this corner of the headphone world. I use an OLYMPUS FiiO 2 (yes, it’s cheap, but it works!) through my MacBook, and use Spotify Premium for most of my listening. On the FiiO I have the high gain on and the bass booster.

Packaging

The headphones come in a fairly standard box: pull off the top and you’ll find the headphones resting in a cloth lined bed with the cable and the 3.5 mm adapter in the middle. The minimal contents are pretty standard for higher end cans, which is another indicator that these headphones punch well above their weight class. If you like having a case for your headphones, you’ll have to look elsewhere, though because these are open-back this isn’t such a big deal since all listening will be done at home. I tend to just return them to the box when I’m done listening, and it works well enough. I don’t have a headphone stand but I imagine it would make the experience even easier. Personally, I enjoy the pre-listening ritual of taking out headphones and hooking them up to my amp and computer.

Fit

These headphones are incredibly comfortable. The ear pads are nice enough, and the slanted fit work well in making your ears feel like they’re in their own space. They do a nice job of channeling the sound, and from what I can tell the only leakage is through the backs, which is the whole point, so no complaints at all about the ear pad material. They certainly aren’t the most expensive material on the market, but others say that swapping the ear pads on these work great. The only thing I can think of is if you like your ear pads to dampen some higher end noise, but with EQ that nuance can be solved easily.
The headband for me was a little hard, but I really am not the one to make a comment on that -- by nature of my head all headbands hurt, so I can’t claim to have an objective view of this feature. But compared to other headphones I’ve tried, like the V-Moda M100s, this headband is very comfortable.
One would expect with the size and type of drivers in these cans that they would be heavy, or at least pretty solid. For me they were surprisingly light and I found no fatigue in my neck, even after several hours of continuous listening. I have scoliosis and some shoulder problems, so this is a huge plus for me, and any others put off by the weight of planar magnetics.

Sound

I like to listen to my headphones before and after (obviously) the burn-in period. It goes without saying on a site like this, but give these cans the proper time to loosen up. Especially if you’re looking for bass response and clarity, they need several hours to finally come into their own. But enough about what they sound like when they’re being held back: how do they play when they’ve gotten their due time?
The short answer is these headphones blew me away, and blow me away every time I put them on. The bass and the mids sound crystal clear on these, given the price point. The bass is- to use the industry term- FAT. Especially with non-synth bass, the 400i 2020s cover every frequency in the bass you need. On albums like D’Angelo’s Voodoo you get incredible sub and great response all the way up to the harmonics when Pino’s playing way up the neck. The result is a full sound. You never feel like you’re being cheated out of any of the response by the hardware, which happens a lot at the sub $500 price point. The one place where the bass falls short is in its ability to punch hard in modern rap music. Artists like Travis Scott or the like tend to feel like they’re losing energy on these headphones. I compared it to my pair of M100s and they did a better job of delivering the punch that genre needs, though they are famous for their big bass and aren’t much of a fair comparison. The vibe of these headphones is very relaxed, so less bass isn’t necessarily a losing feature. I love listening to soul, jazz and alternative genres on these, then switching to either my M100s or my Sony WF-1000XM3 earbuds for more intense-genre listening sessions.
The mids and the highs are where these headphones really shine. Some have said the highs are a little harsh and forward on these, and I think I would agree with them. There are definitely times when I’ve felt they could be a little more subdued, but this problem is hardly noticeable when stacked up against the pros of these headphones. Even if they are a bit forward at times, what that also brings with it is clarity. And what a clear sound it is! Electric guitars, hi hats, synth leads and vocals sound absolutely sublime on these. Add to that the fairly wide soundstage and it really does feel at times you’re listening to speakers in the room. If you like soul, jazz, classic rock, or any of the “vinyl” genres you’ll love these. They react beautifully across genres, and more than once I’ve sat with these headphones getting goosebumps for minutes at a time. This of course is helped by the open-back design which lets the highs run unimpeded (or more free than usual) by bass reflections.
I was considering early on when I had these to buy a tube amp to possibly warm up the sound a little bit, but I decided against it. If the highs are a little too much on the ears but clear, I’ll take that clarity in trade for a little fatigue. And there are plenty of tricks to balance out that sound if you don’t want to buy a whole new amp (I’ll leave explaining those tricks to someone in the comments).
Clarity of instruments is also something these headphones do great. The sound hardly ever gets muddy, and even with pretty complex arrangements, you’ll almost always be able to hear every piece of the band. The wider soundstage again helps with this, since mixes appear much more pronounced, which I love. Even with a “wall” of sound coming from these drivers it sounds unbelievably nuanced and balanced. My one wish would be for even a little more clarity in this area, but for how much these cost you’re already getting an incredible bargain.
Overall, the sound of these cans is unbeatable for this price. Add to that you’re getting an open-back and planar driver- $170 is absolutely bananas! Much applause to HiFiman for opening up this design for us less financially-blessed listeners. Are these the greatest headphones to ever walk the Earth? No. But for how much they cost the value is fantastic. You get a versatile, responsive and clear sound across almost every genre. They sound relaxed and mellow, with crisper notes on the top, which help bring a bit more energy into the mix.
These headphones are a bargain to say the least, and won’t leave you disappointed or underwhelmed with just about any song you can throw at them.


Conclusion

These cans are probably the best headphones you can get in this price range, hands down. For at home listening, they give a great relaxed and defined sound to almost every genre. The pronounced high end can be annoying at times, but is easy enough to remedy. I would recommend these to anyone looking to get into higher end headphones, or for more experienced listeners to have a little fun with some well made and relatively cheap cans. Happy listening everyone.


Recommended Albums on these Headphones: Voodoo by D'Angelo, Blame Game by Beach Bunny, Aja by Steely Dan

P.S. this is my first review on Head-Fi!
Adnen Ayed
Adnen Ayed
Thanks for sharing. You made me feel like trying them out. I listen to classical rock and jazz mostly. But like some progressive rock also.
J
jonthebaron
Jazz sounds great on these; I find a lot of headphones don't really capture the space and ambience of a jazz session well, but these definitely do.

intoitreviews

New Head-Fier
HIFIMAN HE400i 2020: same old, same old, or the new hotness? You decide...
Pros: Lighter Weight, Better Pads, Great Audio Quality for the Money, Greater Speed than HE4XX, but worse tonality.
Cons: Toss up with the HE4XX at best, and I still prefer that headphone.
Hello All!

Welcome back to the Neighborhood. Today we are taking a look at the HIFIMAN 400i 2020. I have yet to get around to reviewing the Deva, and that review will come out shortly (before the end of 2020, I promise), but when I first saw the 400i 2020, I was very interested in it because I love the sonics of my 4XX and adore the form factor of the Deva. The Deva just fits my head nearly perfectly. What I am trying to say, is that I was hopeful that the 400i would be just as comfortable as the Deva, and potentially sound just as good, if not better than both that headphone and my HE4XX. So, did this headphone rise to the challenge, or did the 2020 moniker curse these cans like it has everything else this year?

Let’s get InToit!

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Getting started with the build, I do prefer aspects of this build to previous iterations of this headphone. The headband is nicely padded and wrapped in a nice leatherette material. The yolks do not swivel, but there enough play in the adjustment mechanism to get a good fit and seal, and I think this will generalize to most people’s domes. While the yolks appear to be made out of a metal or dense plastic, the cups are grilles are for sure plastic. The grilles appear to be exactly the same as the ones from the HE4XX, but the cups are significantly cheaper feeling, even if they are lighter in weight. In general, in comparison the HE4XX this is a notably lighter headphone than the HE4XX from drop, and weight is more evenly distributed across one’s head as well.

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The pads on the 400i 2020 seem to be of a hybrid, Focus A variety, and comprised of both leatherette and velour with plastic ring backing. They are fenestrated leatherette on the inside, solid leatherette on the outside, and velour for the portion that rests against your face. These pads are somewhat known for being easily damaged when removed, and I’m not a huge fan of velour in general, but from a sonic perspective I found them quite enjoyable, and softer sounding than the Dekoni Elite Sheepskin variants that I experimented with over the course of this review. I also noted that like the Dekoni pads, the stock pads that come with the HE400i 2020 were also slightly more angled. This is a deviation from the HE4XX, which, came with slightly, less-angled, Focus A pads with terrycloth rather than fenestrated leatherette inside, instead. Furthermore, I found that this pad adjustment by HIFIMAN seemed to not only help out with the sound, but also the fit. My final conclusion regarding these new stock pads, was that the 400i 2020 pads sounded more similar to the HE4XX with Dekoni pads than it did to the original HE4XX without them.

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The cable that comes with the HE400i 2020, is one of HIFIMAN’s newest cable types and comprised of a somewhat, stiff cable wrapped in a black, braided material. Like the newer variants of the HE4XX, it initiates in a dual-poled, right and left, 3.5mm connectors and terminates in an angled 3.5mm, unbalanced connection with a quarter-inch adapter. But, despite some chintziness here or there, especially with specific regard to the cup material, the HE 400i 2020 does, nevertheless, feel more polished as a whole in comparison to its prior iterations. And, it is lighter weight, in the end, as well.

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With regard to the sonics, let me get this out of the way and say that the HE400i 2020 sounds remarkably similar to the HE4XX. So much, so that they’re virtually indistinguishable. I’ve already reviewed the 4XX, but I’ll place that review in the description below for your reference, in case you were interested.

Generally speaking, both the 4XX and 400i 2020 are excellent planarmagnetics, especially for the money. Like the 4XX, what you get with the 400i 2020, is a neutral headphone with a heightened treble presentation, for the most part; but, I will also note that, with the newer pads, the 400i 2020’s treble appears less aggressive to my ears compared to my memory of the stock HE4XX.

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General resolution, detail, clarity and sparkle are great for both sets- especially for the price. Like the 4XX, the 400i 2020 punches well above its price-class. Bass extension is sufficient, and like its predecessors, these also hold up relatively well to EQ; but what you miss out on here vs. other planarmagnetics is a surplus of slam and dynamics. Not to say that either of these qualities are bereft in these cans, but they are certainly less present than other, more-expensive planars by a few Db or so, even despite the fact that they actually have decent bass extensions. Having said that, dynamics are soft, subtle, and detailed enough to appease most listeners in my opinion. And while bass detail is also not mind-blowing either, it is definitely respectable for the price, and adds to the enjoyability factor for these sets.

The midrange is also enjoyable in these sets. They have enough presence, but they are less than perfectly flat around 2K, and as a result, vocals may be perceived as less forward, a tad laid back, and more “in the mix” than others may like, say in comparison to something like the reference, HD600 series from Sennheiser. Nevertheless, I think most would actually prefer this presentation for most music, as most “normies” that I have listen to my headphones prefer the overall presentation of the 4XX to that of the Sennheisers.

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The treble is the "Achilles’ Heel" of these sets for some, as they find them too bright. However, I find that on the right amp, with the right pad, the treble presentations of both the 4XX and 400i 2020 are much more tolerable than many tend to indicate. And while I recommended changing to Dekoni Sheepskin pads on the 4XX to tame its treble, the stock pads on the 400i 2020 are mostly fine, and I never really found it a necessity to change to pads here, because sonics never crossed the line into a harsh territory for me. I think the adjustment that HIFIMAN made to include fenestrated leatherette on the inside of the pads on the 400i 2020 may have contributed to a smoother treble presentation in its stock form. And while I don’t like to confuse treble for detail, as many other reviewers tend to do, I do think the heightened treble here in these sets does contribute to the detail retrieval capabilities of these drivers, in these particular cases. Nevertheless, like the 4XX, I tend to prefer the 400i on warmer, class A power with sufficient current. My general amp recommendation for the 4XX has been the Bravo Ocean, which is a class A amp with a tube-pre stage, and I’m sticking with that recommendation for the 400i 2020 as well.


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I would describe the soundstage for these as generally spacious with greater width than depth. Depth is decent, but in comparison to something like the Sundara, the 4XX and the 400i 2020 lack some depth of field to their staging, which results in a more 2D sound field compared to the 3D sonics and layering capabilities of the Sundara. Any distinctions in imaging, transients, and decay, I feel were more attributed to pad type than to the headphones themselves, and general imaging, decay, and transient performances are stellar in each set.

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With regard to pad experimentation, while I ultimately do not think switching pads for the HE400i 2020 is as necessary of a process as it is for the HE4XX, I do prefer the HE400i with the fenestrated Elite Sheepskin Pads from Dekoni, while I prefer the HE4XX with non-fenestrated Elite Sheepskin ones. Having said that, while, I will save my auditory comparisons with the Deva for that review, I will say here that I preferred the pads of the Deva most from a comfort perspective out of all the headphones discussed in this review.


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In terms of other, specific, distinguishing characteristics between the HE4XX and the HE400i 2020, I will say that the HE400i is faster, slightly leaner in presentation, and mildly drier and brighter in timbre. Because of this, I do find the 400i 2020 to be a tad more fatiguing to listen to over the course of time, but I will not label this headphone as fatiguing in general, so your milage may vary. In HIFIMAN’s lineup, I would say that the 400i 2020 sits somewhere in between the 4XX and the Sundara along a characterological continuum- a continuum which is based on auditory characteristics, and not necessarily based on either value or desirability.

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And I also want to be clear, that these differences are rather trivial in the grand scheme of things. In terms of my recommendations, I would generally recommend both headphones, but I do have a small preference for the overall sound of the HE4XX due to its additional layers of warmth and liquidity. Having said that, separation, depth of sound, and instrument distinction goes the HE400 I 2020. The HE4XX seemed more musical and immersive, while the HE400i 2020 felt more slightly more articulate and defined.

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So, from an auditory perspective, if you already own a 4XX, I would not rush out to replace it with a HE400i 2020 anytime soon, as the two sound more similar than they do different. Also, while the comfort is slightly better for the HE400i 2020 than the HE4XX (due to a lesser weight and more padded headband), I do not find the overall difference in comfort as significant as going from say the 4XX to the DEVA. Yet, if you value speed or want a slightly sharper presentation both with regard to tone and articulation, then the HIFIMAN HE400i 2020 might be, more uniquely, for you.

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rev92

100+ Head-Fier
Hifiman HE400i 2020
Pros: Incredible value
Great build quality
Matt-black, elegant design
Great driver
Lightweight
Comfortable
Jack of all trades
Neutral tuning with great detail
Soundstage
Did I mention the outrageous value?
Cons: The cable is just okay, but that's nitpicking
At this price there are none
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Hifiman HE400i 2020 is a new over-ear planar magnetic headphone coming at 169 USD, making it +/- 3 times less expensive than its predecessor.


Sound quality for the price
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Rating: 10 out of 10.

Build quality
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Rating: 9 out of 10.

Value
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Rating: 10 out of 10.


Packaging

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The unboxing experience is the first surprising thing about this new HE400i. It comes in a box which is strikingly similar to the one supplied with their Sundara. At such a lower price we’re still getting a nice presentation, which is a very good welcoming feature.

The box itself is quite large, and it’s sporting a very nice graphic on top. Inside you’ll find your new HE400i 2020, the cable and some paperwork. That’s basically it, but having their price in mind, you really won’t be expecting anything more.

The cable included is 1.5m long, and it’s pretty decent. It is stiff a bit, but nothing too extreme, so it’s pretty comfortable to use – don’t expect a very flexible and playable cable though. Nonetheless, there’s nothing really to complain, especially for the price.



Build quality

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The build quality of the new HE400i is another positive surprise.
Thanks to the new headband construction, which is actually very similar to the one you can find in DEVA, they feel sturdy and substantial.
I’m not getting any squeaks, everything is well put together and pretty much flawless.

I’m really digging this “all matte-black” design, it’s making them look stealthy and elegant. I’d wish the grills we’re more transparent so I could see this planar driver closely, but it ain’t the con, just my wishful thinking.

Overall, I think that these are built better than the Sundara actually, feeling more reliable and sturdy, without losing any comfort. Actually…quite the opposite.

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Comfort

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Quite the opposite, because the HE400i 2020 is wonderfully comfortable, once again better than the Sundara in this regard.
Once again Hifiman somehow managed to make their planar magnetic headphone pretty lightweight, which was pretty impossible a couple of years ago. The original HE-4, HE-500 or HE-6 was sharing a somehow similar design to these, and they were quite a lot heavier.

The change to the headband construction is a welcoming choice not only in terms of the overall design, but also it increased the comfort even further. The new headband is well-padded and just wonderfully comfortable to wear over long periods of time.

The pads are also improved, being quite a lot more squishy and pleasant to the touch. It is once again a hybrid construction, with leather on the outside and velour on the part that touches your skin.

Thanks to that the new HE400i 2020 is a very comfortable pair of headphones. Actually, I’m wearing them right now for like a 5th hour, and I don’t feel any fatigue. Well…I’m gonna spend a couple of hours more with them on my head, and that idea is pretty much okay with me.

Tech

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The new HE400i 2020 is using the same driver which you can find in the old version of the 400i. I think that’s brilliant news, having in mind how popular and just great the original was. Also, having in mind that almost 3x price reduction, I’m still amused how on earth did they manage to put the same driver in these and to reduce the price that much without any sacrifices in other regards. Well…I might never find out, but it’s surely some kind of dark magic of their accountants.

Sound

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If you think that the HE400i 2020 sounds like a budget pair of over-ear planar magnetic headphones, then think again.

Starting with the bass, the new release by Hifiman impresses from the first notes. Low frequencies are fast, accurate, full-bodied and refined.
It is not a bass-heavy pair of headphones, nor it is thin and analytical. It’s well balanced and neutral, but it surely can roar. Don’t expect the Audeze LCD3 quantity and thickness though, as the he400i are more into detail retrieval, rhythm and complementing the rest of the frequency response, rather than dominating it.
Nonetheless, you can hear every single strumming of the bass guitar, the kick drums are well defined and punchy, without being exaggerated. I haven’t noticed any inconsistencies whether I was listening to Sylosis (it’s a pretty dynamic and fast metal) or just chilling to blues or jazz. I’d call it very intuitive and simply natural, focusing on being accurate and detailed without a slight hint of being too analytical. The only thing worth noting is that these do lack sub-bass sometimes, but it’s very slight. Not to say these do not have this lovely subsonic rumble, but rather it just accompanied with the rest of the bass response, and the sub-bass itself is slightly reduced in the sake of being as accurate as possible.

The midrange pretty much continues what the bass has started. It is wonderfully neutral, uncolored in any way. It is neither dark nor bright, warm or cold, analytical nor musical. It is flat but in a very good way.
Thanks to that, these sound incredible with just about anything you’d throw at them. Classical, jazz, rock, electronic, rap, pop – it’s a jack of all trades, providing nothing more than just an excellent detail and resolution throughout the whole response.
There are two types of neutral tuning of the midrange though – the one is boring, somehow lifeless and almost dead-sounding. The second one, which you can find in here is full, vivid and pleasant, without sounding too forward or dominating.
It is an extremely well-tuned pair of headphones which makes them a wonderful contestant for being the “one and only headphone you need”.

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Even though I’m a reviewer, I read other’s reviews as well. I found some opinions that these are bright and sharp, and require some equalisation to perform well in the treble area.
I’m quite surprised, but I do not hear that. The treble is pronounced, quite forward and detailed, but it’s never too bright or overly sharp for me.
It doesn’t matter if I’m listening to classic rock, metal or modern rap – I’m getting saturated, pronounced and greatly texturized sound, but it never gets unpleasant.
The only thing that might not suit everybody is that the treble sometimes is a bit dry, but it greatly depends on the rest of the setup. While using the JDSLabs Atom stack it is very neutral and pronounced, but tends to sound a bit shallow in some recordings. When I plug them into my Cayin N3Pro, the treble area get’s softened a bit, and it sounds more colorful and natural. So, if you are a fan of smooth and thick treble response, I suggest pairing these with a source that will focus on these factors.

The soundstage is simply incredible for a sub 200$ headphone. The imaging is spot-on both in music and in games. The overall presentation is quite airy, refined and natural, not being super extended, nor shallow and in-your-head like.
The instrument’s separation is brilliant, every single sound source is well defined and pronounced. The vocal is coming from the front of the listener, resulting in a natural and mature staging.

Overall, I’d personally call the HE400i 2020 an over-ear, open-back version of the Campfire Ara, which in my opinion are very similarly tuned. Of course, the Ara has better technicalities and is overall a much better sounding product, but the tuning is very similar in my book.

Summary

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It’s the best value in the modern open-back headphone market. Period.

Hifiman HE400i 2020 absolutely killed the sub 200$ open-back market, delivering an incredible value and not a single factor of a budget sounding headphone. Fast, resolving sound with an incredible detail retrieval and staging in its price makes it the best value open-back headphone in the market today. I’m impressed.

Highly recommended.




Gear used during this review for the sake of comparison and as an accompanying equipment:
  • Headphones – Audeze LCD3, AKG K501, Kennerton Odin, Sivga Phoenix, Sendy Aiva, Focal Clear, Meze 99 Classics, Sennheiser HD650
  • Sources– Cayin N3Pro, Cayin N5ii, Fiio M15, Cayin N6ii, JDSLabs Atom stack, Flux FCN-10, iFi iDAC2
Last edited:
rev92
rev92
Oh, that's bad ;(
someyoungguy
someyoungguy
Off topic - but what is the white headphone stand in your photos here? Looks nice.
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rev92
rev92
It's ROOMs FS line - really like it :)

Takeanidea

Headphoneus Supremus
HiFiMan HE400i 2020 Full Size Planar done fiendishly cheap
Pros: Crazily cheap - Full Size Planar Sound - Need only a decent DAP - Durable headband, cable and deep angled cups
Cons: No case
HiFiMan HE400i 2020
$169 for a decent planar magnetic full-size headphone?
Introduction
Headband Facing Stood Up.jpg

The usual caveats apply; I'm a reviewer so I get sent stuff. HiFiMan have been very loyal to me and also to many of us on headfi, and we're appreciative I'm sure of the faith they put in us, and I'm also pretty certain of that some of the feedback goes into making their products even better. Of course, that could be why we have arrived at 2020 version of a good seller for them of the HE400, one of their baseline models.
The reason why the question mark over the subtitle is because $169 seems a very cheap price to pay for a pair of full-size planar magnetic headphones given that planar magnetic driver technology is more expensive generally to produce than dynamic driver headphones. What we will want to discover is is are these too cheap and cheerful to consider audiophile quality and where havethe saviour's been met to enable these to be sold at this price level?
Stay tuned and read on and I will give you these answers in very short time,
do not worry...
Stood Up.jpg

About the he400i 2020.
Within which I will describe both the technical aspects in as untechnical a language as I can think.
Firstly, you will want to know what the difference is between the original and the 2020 version. If the original has of the traditional hi-fi man headband has different cables and slightly different materials have been used to make the headband and and yoke and cups and cable. HiFiMan have recently changed their headband design and taking it from a 2 piece design at the top to a one-piece design which has created a more modern look. That's the first thing you notice about the 2020 version. The drivers are the same as the original. I will leave others to speculate on the tuning of the new compared to the originals because to be perfectly honest with you I've never heard the old version. Also I do these reviews without reading any other reviews I'm a products that I'm testing to ensure fairness and originality.

Most HiFiMan full-size products need amping to make them sound at their best. By which I mean don't expect a plug these into your smartphone and hear deafiningly loud music come out. It just won't happen. But, being a model in the low price range, at least for a full size headphone that is, the 400i can at least be plugged into a smartphone. Although it has a slightly low sensitivity of 93 dB, compared to an earphone, this planar magnetic headphone has a low resistance of 35 ohms. The corded cable supplied is terminated with a 3.5 mm jack. The idea is to be plugging this into either a smartphone phone, digital audio player or one of these DAC/amp dongles you can get. Low resistance and low sensitivity are not usually a good combination for getting the best out of your headphones by connecting them directly to as low and empty device has a smartphone but of course dear reader I will be doing just that and will give you my opinion on the results of that experiment.
Led down .jpg

Unboxing accessories build quality
As one might expect at this price level for a full-size planar, there are few frills within the reassuringly large box supplied. Once open the headphones, sans cable, are nestled in the usual velvet inlay. The cable is contained in the middle under a little plastic flap. Otherwise we have an instruction manual and a 6.3 adaptor. There is no case supplied with this model so you'll have to go out and seek your own or get a stand or do without.
In Box with Border.jpg

I was pleased to see that my packaging arrived from China in a pristine condition; this is because it was double boxed.
The Box.jpg

The he-400i has flawless stitching around the headband has a decent set of cups, a reasonable clamping force, and at 375g is not overly heavy. I have a very small head but at the minimum setting they didn't feel particularly floppy. These have sufficient adjustment to suit many different sizes and shapes of heads.
Headband.jpg

I know some of you out there that were not impressed with the rather fragile feel to the surgical tubing style of the more expensive cables supplied with headphones such as the HE1000, and the Susvara. This one has a more robust feel and look to it.
Cable.jpg
End jacks.jpg
Cable and 6.3.jpg

These are good size set of headphones the diaphragm size of the driver's inside are pretty large for what I'd expected at this price.
Showing Planar Driver.jpg

Sound quality
Introduction
I was very pleased with the sound quality. For $169? You've got to be kidding! I'm a fan of the HiFiMan planar sound. The tuning of these, the size of the drivers, the clamping force of the headband, the quality of the cups, all contribute to create an experience which should leave the vast majority of audiophiles feeling extremely satisfied. No these won't compete with a Susvara. But they will hold their own with the Deva, which is a $299 Bluetooth Planar. the characteristics of the planar sound are all here. We have a fast bass response which is reasonably linear, and we have that crispness in the mids and highs, which doesn't get too bright or energetic unless the headphones are underpowered. The soundstage is reasonably large and of course we are dealing with some reasonably large driver diaphragms inside some good sized cups which have a good depth to them.
Showing Cup Angles.jpg

Sound from smartphone
As promised I put these into my Xiaomi mix 3 5 g smartphone. My first attempt was not too successful. The sound had to be put up to full volume and was not too pleasant to be perfectly honest with you. the simply didn't feel like there was quite enough juice in my phone to run these properly.
Undaunted I tried my UAPP app. For those of you who have this I used in bit perfect mode and tried some radio channels as I don't have any music currently stored on my phone. The attempt through this app was far better and yielded a less thin sounding result.
I then had a look at my sound settings and realised that I could configure the phone phone for a pair of full-size headphones and that achieved better results again.
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I managed a passable sound quality at around 90% volume.
Fiio M11 DAP
Fiio M11 Stood Up.jpg
Fiio M11 led down.jpeg
Fiio M11 Led Down.png
Fiio M11 hm1000 led flat.png

I had this in the low gain setting mode at 73% volume. I used Fiio music player in pure mode, which converts all files to dsd. although just for fun I tried other stuff I felt that the fire M11 was more than adequate to produce decent sound out of the HE400i. The recording on the video embedded here uses the Fiio M11, for your reference.
HM1000
Of course this is surely overkill! The hm1000 is a $4500 dacamp. But it's very nice and I've got it with me so why not try it?
HM1000 Stood Up.jpg

Of course the sound was amazing. There are three sensitivity settings on the copper DAC amp. Super low low and high. The he-400i 2020 needs the low gain setting. It needs about 60% volume to sound at it's best.
HM1000 Flash.jpg

Supermini
A tiny little DAP. It has a very rudimentary gui, no streaming capabilities and cannot be hooked up digitally to anything. For those who have lots of music files on a microSD card who just want to listen to music on the go however, this thing is superb sounding.
Supermini.jpg

It even has a balanced 3.5, which gives an extra bit of power even when you plug in an unbalanced cable. Who knows what DAC chip is in this one, but I really like it. The 400i works perfectly well on this device.
Conclusion
I can think of very little to criticise here. At $169 I see this as being a very good introduction into the hifiman range of planar magnetic full-size headphones and I'm presuming that they are are in at this price level to tempt you to part with more of your cash down the line and become a member of their Clan.
Cups facing front.jpg

There will be many temptations with Black Friday, Cyber Monday and Christmas just around the corner. for those not wanting to spend much on a set of full-size headphones this has to be on the list.
Showing inside and outside of cups.jpg

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Ichos

Reviewer at hxosplus
A Classic reborn
Pros: - Overall Sound Performance
- Great tonality
- Bass
- Open Headstage
- New more comfortable headband design
- New lowered price
Cons: - Could be more refined
- Needs power despite advertised as mobile friendly
- No carrying case
- Mediocre cable
A Classic reborn

The review sample was kindly provided by HiFiMan and is still under their ownership.
This is my honest and subjective evaluation of it.

One of the most beloved headphones of Hifiman with a now legendary status is the original HE400.
As we all may know the headphone have undergone many updates and revisions in order to become more comfortable and portable devices friendly plus some fine tuning adjustments.
The various iterations were the HE400s , the HE400i with the 2.5mm connectors , then the HE400i with the 3.5mm ones and now the latest HE400i 2020 version which is being reviewed here.

HE 400i 2020 version

The very nice looking full black 2020 version is essentially the 3.5mm HE 400i with the new type headband that it was first introduced with the Deva.
The real surprise however is that together with the revision we get a very generous price cut as the cost is now lowered down to 170$ making it the most affordable planar magnetic headphone from Hifiman and maybe the whole market.
IMG_20201008_190227.jpg

The newly designed lightweight headband is a classic type one with added comfort and easily adjustable.
It is made of memory foam with pleather at the outside and allows for the ear cups to swivel freely.
The ear cups are made of polymer ABS material while the asymmetrical removable ear pads are made of pleater and velour.
The weight is very low for a planar headphone at only 370 gr while the build quality is the typical Hifiman good but not the best.
The newly designed detachable cable is terminated with 3.5mm plugs at both ends and it is the only accessory we get plus an 6.35mm adapter.
While it is of better quality than the older design it is still quite bulky and prone to tangling.
The HE400i 2020 version features the same very thin single ended planar magnetic drivers with an impedance of 35 Ω and an 93 dB sensitivity.
IMG_20201008_190244.jpg

Fit and comfort are excellent thanks to the low weight and the roomy ear pads that are very breathable.
We used it for several hours without anything particularly bothering us except perhaps the contact points of the headband which could be a little more anatomical.

Listening tests

We have auditioned the HE 400i 2020 version with various devices among them the FiiO Q1 mark ii and EarMen TR Amp.
Excessive listening tests dictated that despite the high nominal sensitivity of the headphone in real life usage extra current was needed for the HE400i 2020 version to sound at it's best so in our opinion the use of a medium power amp / dac is mandatory.
IMG_20201008_190129.jpg

The general tonal balance of the HE400i is classic Hifiman with a neutral slightly warm sound , good extension to both ends and a little excessive energy at the treble.

A great advantage of the planar magnetic headphones is their low range quantity and quality and the HE400i 2020 is no slouch in this area.
The bass reaches well down almost touching sub bass and it is very tight , well defined with satisfying layering but lags a little bit in body and physical presence as it is more ethereal than visceral.

There is no bleeding at all to the mid bass with the response being ruler flat to the mids. Mids that are crystal clear and very naturally portrayed without emphasis so to be heard as faithful as possible to the recording.
But don't be mistaken as this isn't a clinical presentation but it is rather lively with a great amount of enjoyment.
IMG_20201008_185726.jpg

Those of you who have heard the original HE400 will probably remember that at high frequencies was a little too hot with an added sharpness which could become very annoying.
This is not the case with the current model, which despite some accentuations at the upper mid range area it sounds much more restrained and controlled without being sharp.
There is enough presence and energy with great clarity and satisfying detail retrieval.
Still there is an ethereal touch to the sound and sometimes the headphone can become slightly thin or maybe out of tune due to the faster than needed decay time.

Headstage is one of the best we have heard in this price category and it leaves most of the competition just lagging behind.
Wide and roomy with pinpoint accuracy and ample air for the instruments to breathe it uniquely renders the recording venue while it only lacks in depth and layering when compared to the more expensive models.

The HE400i proved to be a very capable performer for all kinds of music with great precision and transparency although with a rather ethereal and delicate sound to it.

Compared to the Deva

The 40$ more expensive Deva (without the BlueMini) features the same headband , it is 10gr lighter and more sensitive and easier to drive.
Comfort is a little better with the Deva thanks to the larger more breathable ear pads but it is also bulkier with the HE400i offering more snug and discreet fit.
IMG_20201008_190316.jpg

Overall sound signature is quite the same with only marginal differences but that are easily audible.
Bass extension and quantity is the same as is the quality with both headphones sounding clear and layered but the Deva is offering a more visceral presentation with better overall dynamics.
Performance up to the mids is identical with a slight boost for the Deva making for a fuller and warmer sound.
Upper mids are more restrained at the Deva resulting in an easier going presentation but there is a slight emphasis at about 5KHz that some people might find annoying.
The HE400i is slightly more detailed and airy but we thought that the Deva presented micro details better with a more natural and unforced way and the timbre was more to our liking.
Headstage is equally good and enjoyable at both headphones that they really reach well above the competition.
So when it comes down to choosing as always it is a matter of budget and preferences with the cheaper HE400i 2020 version offering a more monitoring and neutral character against the most warm and full bodied Deva.
Last but not least let's not forget that the Deva can be easily transformed to a high quality bluetooth headphone with the addition of the extra BlueMini.

Compared to the Sundara

Sundara is the upper mid range headphone of Hifiman just a step behind the Ananda but it is double the price of HE400i 2020 asking for 170$ more.
Weight is the same as it is comfort , overall appearance and fit but the Sundara still uses the old type self adjustable headband without the extra padding and the freely swiveling ear cups.
Impedance and sensitivity are almost identical and they both require an external amp to sound their best.
IMG_20201008_190446.jpg

Frequency response for both headphones is almost identical up to the mid range but then the Sundara rises up a little with a more emphasis at the higher registers.
As a result we hear more detail and the overall sound is more clear and luminous but although this is not a bright or overly sharp headphone some users may find it fatiguing at the end.
Frequency response of course doesn't tell the whole story and in the case of the Sundara we get a way more refined sound with a better articulated and layered bass , greater dynamics and a more holographic scene with a more physical presentation of the venue.
The Sundara is definitely the HE400i 2020 evolved to a better and more sophisticated headphone.

Comparison synopsis

Hifiman is offering us three great planar headphones with a very good proportional rise to the value to performance ratio.
We spent more and we surely get equally sound benefits to justify the extra expense.
The HE400i 2020 version is an entry level neutral planar magnetic headphone that will satisfy everybody without missing a lot , then by adding 40$ more we buy the Deva with a little better technicalities and a slightly different more warm tuning or by doubling the price we buy the Sundara which is just a step before TOTL with the same neutral tuning but with much increased technical performance and refinement.
So judge carefully your needs and budget and make your pick.
IMG_20201008_190426.jpg


At the end

The Hifiman HE400i (2020 version) thanks to it's improved sound performance and the updated more comfortable headband is in our opinion the best version of the iconic HE400.
At the same time with the new much lowered price this is one of best bargains in the market right now not only as a first step to the planar magnetic world of Hifiman but also as a very competitive mid tier headphone regardless of type.
An excellent budget planar magnetic headphone from Hifiman that definitely deserves to be a part of your collection.

As always rating is a price to performance ratio.

Edit(06/12/20) - After a lot more listening we think that they deserve a half star more so we raised the rating at 4.5/5.

The test playlist - http://open.qobuz.com/playlist/5669033

Copyright - Laskis Petros 2020.
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HoJ76
HoJ76
I'm pretty new to the headphone world. I already have a sony mdr 1000x, BeoPlay H6 and Marshall Major v1. Have used a laptop or mobile phone as a source. At the end of this week I also get the Topping dx3 pro which I will use on the headphones.
I have ordered both he400i and akg k701 this week so it can be quite an exciting time ahead.
Tripokaridos
Tripokaridos
I have MDR 1000x and i had for a whyle the Marshall Major they wasnt comfortable and i return them. Other than that all these headphones that u have are boomy mudded slow on sound in my opinion. With He400i and K700i ( i dont have them but from what i have read) u gone get clarity tighteness and sepperetion but forget about that bass u was used to ... just give them time and u never go back .
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Ichos
Ichos
A that's good the topping will do them justice as the mobile and laptop aren't sufficient.
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